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Best Uses For Calcium Alginate Dressings

There are many different types of dressings for wounds, lesions, and sores. One option is to use calcium alginate dressings, which are not as common as other dressings, but can be highly effective for both wounds that have exudate as well as deep cavity wounds that have to be packed. This is largely due to the biodegradable properties of the alginate, which reduce pain and help to keep tissues moist during the healing process. The bandage requires moisture to create the natural gel, so this dressing should not be used on dry wounds or where there is a layer of scar tissue that blocks drainage of the area.

Calcium alginate dressings are made from seaweed, the source for the alginate. They are very absorbent, and therefore a great option when there is too much exudate to use a hydrocolloid type of dressing. The absorption amount for these dressings is impressive both as a surface dressing as well as when used for packing cavities after draining or cleaning. Like hydrocolloid dressings, calcium alginate dressings form a natural gel of the exudates against the healing tissue that keeps it moist and supple, aiding in healing and tissue growth. In addition, this gel material forms a natural barrier to bacteria that may complicate healing with secondary infections of the wound. The dressing can be changed as needed, with simple rinsing and washing of the wound all that is typically needed during dressings changes.

Calcium alginate dressings are often used for burns, since they are very easy to remove when they need to be changed. This dressing is also commonly used with ulcers, including diabetic skin ulcers which can be very difficult to treat with other types of dressings. They literally rinse of the skin's surface with a saline application or rinse or simply slough off with the gel and tissue when the wound is cleaned. Unlike other dressings, the key to successfully using calcium alginate dressings is to keep them off of the healthy tissue and  just applied to the wound area. You would then use gauze and medical tape to hold in place.

Although found in a wide variety of traditional wound dressing shapes and sizes, calcium alginate dressings are also made into longer rope and pads that are used in larger cavity types of wounds. Regardless of the style or type of dressing used, the procedure for applying the dressing is the same. You just have to appropriately accommodation for the type of wound and location on the patient's body.

In most cases, daily changing of the calcium alginate dressings are not required. However, with a deep wound or one producing a lot of exudate, this can be the case. With frequent or occasional changes, simply wash the wound with a saline solution and gently scrub the healthy tissue around the wound edges to remove any parts of the calcium alginate dressing that may be stuck to the healthy skin. It is important to remove this to allow the next dressing to be correctly positioned with regards to the wound.


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